I was recently invited to a barbecue at the home of a couple who are expecting a baby. Of course I brought along a couple of bottles for a gift & party contribution. I chose to make them my recipe for Strawberry Rum Punch in bottles decorated with ribbons & labels, however I struggled to see the value of that for the hostess given that she most likely wouldn't be drinking during her pregnancy. I then set my mind to figuring out something I could bring that she might also enjoy and I came up with this idea for a gift that would provide her and her husband with 2 super quick, super easy dinners on nights when the baby has sucked the last bit of energy out of both of them… I imagine with night feedings and diaper changes, they'll have a fair few of those nights ahead of them once their bundle of joy arrives. I then thought that this is a lovely gift idea for new mothers whether given at a shower or even after the baby is born. How often is the baby lavished with gifts and the parents are completely forgotten about? Though I love lavishing gifts on a tiny new baby, I often think of all the changes ahead for the parents and remind myself that it's nice for them to be spoiled a little too. Now that I think about it, this would also be a great gift for kids heading out to university or moving into their first flats who haven't quite discovered their cooking talents just yet…
Admittedly, this entire gift idea centers around a recipe from Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson for something called Spaghetti Spice. It's a simple mix of dried herbs, spices & salt that when mixed with a bit of pasta cooking water and some olive oil, makes a delicious coating or sauce for pasta. Click here for the recipe, or better yet, grab yourself a copy of Nigellissima - it's by far one of my all-time favorite cookbooks and I use it so often that the pages are stained with splatters of oil from sitting it by the stove. Using this simple recipe, putting the rest of this gift together is so simple that anyone can do it.
Here's what you'll need:
1 small jar, such as a Kilner flip-top jar as seen above
Small bottle for olive oil (I recycled a maple syrup bottle, but you can get similar here)
A package of Spaghetti (such as Rummo Spaghetti No. 3 seen above)
Labels (similar here)
Paper for instructions
A pen or marker
Small gift bag, box or basket for presentation (optional)
Putting it all together:
1. Using the pen or marker, write out the instructions for how to use the Spaghetti Spice (available in the recipe). Roll up the paper and tie it with a ribbon or put it into a small envelope and label it instructions with one of the labels you'll use on the jars.
2. Fill the bottle with olive oil and the jar you're using with the Spaghetti Spice mixture. Wipe them on the outside to make sure they're clean with no drips or spills.
3. Place a label on both the olive oil bottle and jar of Spaghetti Spice and write on them accordingly.
4. Decorate any of the jars or bottles you like with a ribbon bow. Feel free to get creative and use anything you like such as raffia, yarn or whatever you have on hand.
5. Package it all together with the pasta and it's all set and don't forget to include the instructions.
What homemade gifts do you enjoy giving to friends and family?